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Quilting Information: Andrea Brokenshire’s “Flora Bota’nica”

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Quilting Information:  April 18, 2014

Flora Bota’nica


One of the special exhibits at the MQX show in New Hampshire last week was Andrea Brokenshire’s “Flora Bota’nica.”


These quilts–and there were at least ten of them and I could have taken a picture of every single one–were spectacular.  I’ve seen a lot of quilts of flowers, but these are extraordinary.

Here’s one:


Here’s another:


You can see many more of these amazing quilts if you google “images for Andrea Brokenshire quilts.”



Written by louisaenright

April 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Michael Pollan: COOKED

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  April 26, 2014


Michael Pollan


Friend Gina Caceci brought me Michael Pollan’s Cooked a bit ago…


I’m only into the beginning pages, but am looking forward to reading more.

Pollan begins with describing what he calls the “cooking paradox”:

How is it that at the precise historical moment when Americans were abandoning the kitchen, handing over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, we began spending so much of our time thinking about food and watching other people cook it on television?  The less cooking were doing in our own lives, it seemed, the more that food and its vicarious preparation transfixed us (3).

Pollan goes on to note that “the amount of time spent preparing meals in American households has fallen by half since the mid-sixties, when I was watching my mom fix dinner, to a scant twenty-seven minutes a day” (3).


Cooking, Pollan notes, is magic:  “Even the most ordinary dish follows a satisfying arc of transformation, magically becoming something more than the sum of its ordinary parts.  And in almost every dish, you can find, besides the culinary ingredients, the ingredients of a story:  a beginning, a middle, and an end” (4).

And here’s a bit of philosophy that might explain the “cooking paradox”:

So maybe the reason we like to watch cooking on television and read about cooking in books is that there are things about cooking we really miss.  We might not feel we have the time or energy (or the knowledge) to do it ourselves every day, but we’re not prepared to see it disappear from our lives altogether.  If cooking is, as the anthropologists tell us, a defining human activity–the act with which culture begins, according to Claude Lévi-Strauss–then maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that watching its processes unfold would strike deep emotional chords (5).

Other anthropologists “have begun to take quite literally the idea that the invention of cooking might hold the evolutionary key to our humaness” (6).

A few years ago, a Harvard anthropologist and primatologist named Richard Wrangham published a fascinating book called Catching Fire, in which he argued that it was the discovery of cooking by our early ancestors–and not tool making or meat eating or language–that set us apart from the apes and made us human.  According to the “cooking hypothesis,” the advent of cooked food altered the course of human evolution.  By providing our forebears with a more energy-dense and easy-to-digest diet, it allowed our brains to grow bigger (brains being notorious energy guzzlers) and our guts to shrink.  It seems that raw food takes much more time and energy to chew and digest, which is why other primates our size carry around substantially larger digestive tracts and spend many more of their waking hours chewing–as much as six hours a day.

Cooking, in effect, took part of the work of chewing and digestion and performed it for us outside of the body, using outside sources of energy.  Also, since cooking detoxifies many potential sources of food, the new technology cracked open a treasure trove of calories unavailable to other animals.  Freed from the necessity of spending our days gathering large quantities of raw food and then chewing (and chewing) it, humans could now devote their time, and their metabolic resources, to other purposes, like creating a culture (6).

So, “if cooking is as central to human identity, biology, and culture as Wrangham suggests, it stands to reason that the decline of cooking in our time would have serious consequences for modern life, and so it has” (7).

I will leave you with this quote–which contains much “food for thought”:

The shared meal is no small thing.  It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization:  sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.  What have been called the “cultural contradictions of capitalism”–its tendency to undermine the stabilizing social forms it depends on–are on vivid display today at the modern American dinner table, along with all the brightly colored packages that the food industry has managed to plant there (8).





Written by louisaenright

April 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Turkey Tracks: Spring Peepers

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Turkey Tracks:  April 26, 2014

Spring Peepers


I’ve been really busy with spring projects and spring clean-up.

So you have not heard from me much this week.

The amazing Stephen Pennoyer has taken on many of the projects neglected for the past five years.  He is a meticulous carpenter and all-around building expert.  And he’s been the most wonderful gift in my life as he has taken on jobs that most people would shudder at doing–things like digging drainage ditches for underground pipes and digging big and deep holes to sink new fence posts in–all into earth covered with gravel and littered with land-fill stones.  Always, he is cheerful–no matter the frustration.  And, always, he figures out a way “to do it right.”  I’m “the helper” and am called on to hold posts steady.  Or, help lift something that needs more than two hands or just a big more carrying poundage.

I’ll start posting pictures as he finishes the many jobs we have underway.

Meanwhile, Melody Pendleton was here painting a big downstairs room.

And Riteway Rugs picked up the big Karastan downstairs.  It’s been over 11 years since it has been cleaned.

Those are only A FEW of the ongoing projects.

Meanwhile, I cleaned out (and repaired rusted out chicken wire) on the chicken coop and cage.  That always a HUGE spring job.

I am thankful that it’s a rainy day.  My body needs a rest…

* * *

The peepers–tiny, tiny frogs–have  had a terrible time this year.

First they emerged out of the icy mud only to have a serious refreeze.  Many of us were afraid they had been killed.

Here are some images:  Peepers image – Google Search.

And here is a video I did the other night so you could see how LOUD they are:

Written by louisaenright

April 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Turkey Tracks: Mid April Update

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Turkey Tracks:  April 18, 2014

Mid April Update


I’ve had a busy few weeks, and it’s been fun.

First of all, Rosie, my Copper Black Maran has decided to lay her super dark brown eggs again.  Aren’t they pretty?



Rosie is the last CBM I have.  Remember that we lost her rooster to the fox last spring…

CBMs are not great layers, but they are big, happy hens and very social.

It might be time to think about getting some more from Tom Culpepper in Georgia…

Along with the beef broth–which is on the blog post just before this one–I made a shredded veggie lacto-fermented mixture, as mine is all gone now.  I used cabbage, including a red one which will make the mixture such a lovely red in a few days, garlic, carrots, and a bunch of kale.   Here it is in the bowl, all kneaded until it is juicy and ready to load into jars:


I have two kinds of jars I like to use–a regular old wide-mouth Mason jar and a fancier Fido jar with a bailer and rubber sealer.  I thought I’d have enough mixture for a half-gallon jar, but no.  Thus the quart jar:


Here’s a little video of Pumpkin, my rooster, who is amazing with the hens.  You can hear him telling them to “come eat this food,” and if you watch carefully, you’ll see him pick up food and hold it up for them to see that it’s “ok.”



I make a run up to Belfast to the Belfast Coop every ten days or so.  The Coop carries the dog food I use:  raw ground WHOLE chicken–bones, skin, organs, the works.  The girls THRIVE on this food.  You’d never know to look at them that they are 11 and 12 years old.  Here’s what their good looks like:


I have an old pair of boots that I bought for $10 at a kind of shoe-thrift store back in Virginia over 15 years ago.  They are my “chicken boots”–and survive ice and mud in rough weather.  I think I’ve gotten and will continue to get my money’s worth.  I’m still using heavy gloves when I go out for chicken duty morning and evening:


Remember this rug I braided on the fashioned loom?  It’s still going strong…

The wild turkeys have broken up into small bands now.  I have one male who is hanging around with his band–probably because they are still feeding on discarded coop bedding and the odd treats I throw to the chickens.  At night he roosts in one of the pines just beyond the stream.  And he calls to me when I come out to lock up the chickens.

Here’s one video I took of him the other day.  He’s perpetually “puffed up” these days:

And one of him with some of his hens.  His tail is looking a bit ragged.  I heard two males fighting at dusk up on the hill last week–they seemed to be hitting heads/necks/wings.  Hard to tell :


Soon the hens will sit on eggs, and I will not see much of them until next winter–except for the odd crossing across a road here and there.

Turkey Tracks: Beef Bone Broth Today

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Turkey Tracks:  April 17, 2014

Beef Bone Broth Today


This morning I started a beef bone broth.

A good bone broth is chock full of all sorts of minerals and fats that your body LOVES!

I started with beef bones, celery, onions (skin on if they are clean), carrots.  I cook them at about 400 until they are brown and toasty.  Stir once or twice.




The white circle in the middle of the bone is the marrow–and that’s from where gelatin comes.  Gelatin is, again, chock full of nutrients that are good for you.


Here’s what the bones look like after cooking:


DO NOT DISCARD THIS FAT IT IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD FOR YOU.  Good fat provides a constant, steady source of energy–unlike the energy from sugar which yo-yos you up and down and causes problems with your hormones, like how your insulin reacts.

Put the ENTIRE contents of this pan into a large pot and add water, something acid (a little wine or vinegar helps extract the minerals), and some salt.

Look at the lovely dark color of this broth:


I will simmer this broth for 12 to 24 hours.  Add water as needed.  Turn it off when you leave the house or when you go to bed.  It can sit overnight UNCOVERED in its pan overnight.  Just reheat in the morning and start simmering again.

When you’re ready, strain the broth.  I have a big strainer I like to use.  Throw away the bones and spent veggies.  DON’T GIVE COOKED BONES TO DOGS.

Use the broth, or freeze some of it.  Don’t fill a Ball Jar too full or it will split open in the freezer.  Leave plenty of room.

I’m going to make a hearty stew with this batch of broth–leeks, roasted tomato sauce from my stash, mushrooms, lamb stew meat, some dried tomatoes and zucchinis I dehydrated last summer, carrots–and that is as far as I have gotten in thinking about the stew today.



Written by louisaenright

April 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Turkey Tracks: Two Quilts Mailed

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Turkey Tracks:  April 17, 2014

Two Quilts Mailed


Long years ago now I made a quilt for a family new baby boy–a quilt with a fish theme–that got lost in the mail.

Meanwhile, that baby now has a sister–and neither are babies any more.

So, this winter I set about making them each a long-overdue quilt–with a “fishy” theme.

These quilts are meant to be used, loved, washed, and used some more.

Here’s the boy’s quilt.  It’s called  “Seahorse Seas.”


I quilted with Anne Bright’s “Ocean View” which has sea horses, shells, and sand dollars in the pattern.



Here’s a piece of the focus fabric:


I mixed in some 9-patch blocks in coordinating fabrics:


Here’s the front striped border and the binding out of the focus fabric:


I like the backing rather a lot:



* * *

The girl’s quilt is from a pattern by Joan Ford in her “Quilt Your Stash!”–a little magazine that I picked up in Portland some years ago.

Joan Ford stopped with the flying geese border–so I added the outer border, and I like it a lot.

This quilt is called “A…’s Pretty Fish”:


The background is a deep navy blue.

Here’s more of that border–and the pantograph is “Circle of Life,” by Patricia E. Ritter–ordered from the Urban Elementz web site.


Here are some fish:


And, more fish:


And another shot of that terrific flying fish border.  I think that border is what drew me to this quilt the most…



The backing is a bright red floral…



It’s always fun to mail off one quilt, let alone TWO!


Quilting Information: The Four Seasons Banners From Italy

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Quilting Information:  April 17, 2014


An Exhibition Sponsored by Aurifil Thread, Milan, Italy

The recent Machine Quilters Expo (MQX) show in Manchester, New Hampshire, exhibited 70 quilted banners made by the Casa Patchwork & Quilting group that represented the four seasons.  The banners spread out over 40 feet of exhibit space. Each member was  given a palette to create their own banner–which is why the banners  “hang together” so nicely.

Here is a video that sweeps through the banners so you can see their impact:

Here are some close-ups of “winter.”






“Summer” close up:




And “Fall” close up:


Aren’t they wonderful?

Written by louisaenright

April 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: THE BOYS IN THE BOAT

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  April 15, 2014

The Boys in the Boat

Daniel James Brown


Daniel James Brown’s book about the eight-man crew team that won the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany has been a pleasure to read.


Like Laura Hildenbrand’s Seabiscuit, Brown’s book uses the story of the University of Washington’s crew teams to tell the wider story of that “dust bowl” era so filled with poverty.  And like Seabiscuit, who won against a big, glossy, stallion from the east, this crew team is not comprised of elite, East Coast young men, but the sons of loggers, fishermen, farmers, and blue-collar workers.  Most of these young men grew up poor and struggled to get purchase in a world filled with poverty and struggle.

This story is also about George Yeoman Pocock, who built, by hand, the 62-foot rowing shells used by most competitive teams in America.  Pocock emigrated from England, was the son of a boat builder, was a self-taught award-winning rower, and struggled to get purchase in American.  Nothing was handed to Pocock for free.

And, there is Al Ulbrickson, the University of Washington’s crew coach, who had been an award-winning rower at the University of Washington.

These men all have bottomless character, bottomless heart, and iron wills.  It is a pleasure to read about them–and about how they could not begin to win until they learned to work together, to work as a cohesive unit, to respect each other, to protect each other, to like each other’s differences.

Here’s a quote from George Pocock:

Every good rowing coach, in his own way, imparts to his men the kind of self-discipline required to achieve the ultimate from mind, heart, and body.  Which is why most ex-oarsmen will tell you they learned more fundamentally important lessons in the racing shell than in the classroom.

Here’s how Brown starts the book:

Competitive rowing is an undertaking of extraordinary beauty preceded by brutal punishment.  Unlike most sports, which draw primarily on particular muscle groups, rowing makes heavy and repeated use of virtually every muscle in the body….And rowing makes these muscular demands not at odd intervals but in rapid sequence, over a protracted period of time, repeatedly and without respite.

Rowing competitively, at some point in the race, I learned, becomes really painful.

Here’s a description of “the boys”–as seen by their freshman coach who goes on to coach at Harvard–Tom Bolles:

And it wasn’t just their physical prowess  He liked the character of these particular freshmen.  The boys who had made it this far were rugged and optimistic in a way that seemed emblematic of their western roots.  They were the genuine article, mostly the products of lumber towns, dairy farms, mining camps, fishing boats, and shipyards.  They looked, they walked, and they talked as if they had spent most of their lives out of doors.  Despite the hard times and their pinched circumstances, they smiled easily and openly.  They extended calloused hands eagerly to strangers.  They looked you in the eye, not as a challenge, but as an invitation.  They joshed you at the drop of a hat.  They looked at impediments and saw opportunities (94).

Brown chooses crew member Joe Rantz as the emotional heart of this book.  And it’s a good choice.  Joe’s mother dies when he’s about five, his father remarries, his stepmother rejects him, and he’s thrown on his own resources from about the age of ten.  Basically, he’s abandoned–and part of the drama of the story is that Joe has to learn to trust his crew mates.  How many five-year olds today would be put on a train in Washington state and make the journey to the East Coast on his own?

And, then there is the story of Henry Penn Burke, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Committee–and the chairman of and a major fundraiser for the Pennsylvania Athletic Club in Philadelphia–who, when the Penn team comes in second to the Washington team, announces that there is no money to send the Washington team to the Olympics, but that the Penn team has money and will be happy to take the place of the Washington team.

Heroically, the folks back in Washington–many of whom are dirt poor–manage to raise the $5000 needed to send the team to Germany.  And they do it in two days.  Small contributions come in until there is enough.

No wonder westerners were skeptical of the eastern elites…

It’s a good, interesting read.



Quilting Information: Flickr: Jessica’s Quilting Studio’s Photostream

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Quilting Information:  April 15, 2014

Jessica Jones’ Quilting Studio Quilts

Well, here’s a treat for you.

I am just back from attending the Machine Quilters’ Expo (MQX) in Manchester, New Hampshire–where I attended three classes.  One of those classes was with DeLoa Jones–who taught at the Maine state quilt show, Pine Tree Quilters’ Guild, last summer.  DeLoa’s lecture included quilts her daughter Jessica has quilted.

Those quilts are available for you to see–and they are truly wonderful–and you will get many ideas for your own quilting.  Take a look:   Flickr: Jessica’s Quilting Studio’s Photostream.

You can access Jessica’s site by googling Jessica’s Quilting Studio.


Here’s more information on Jessica–copied from her web site–sorry about the wonky fonts.

Jessica Jones studied art and design at Central Michigan University. During summer break, she helped with her mother, DeLoa Jones’ longarm quilting business and fell in love with the art of machine quilting. She started her own longarm business in 2002 and, in the relatively short time since, has quilted over 4000 customer quilts. Jessica quilts for clients from all over the country and many of her customers have won prizes for the quilts she has masterfully quilted.

Also an instructor, Jessica has shared her quilting talents and expertise with students, nationally, and also in her home area of Phoenix, AZ. Her quilts have appeared in numerous quilting books and magazines, and frequently grace the pages of Quilting Celebrations. Jessica has also appeared on Quilting Celebrations with Patrick Lose on QNNtv.


Written by louisaenright

April 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Interesting Information: Skin in the Game

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Interesting Information:  April 7, 2014

Skin in the Game


We all have skin in the game of life.  Literally.  Our own skin.

Our skin is our largest organ–a fact I’ve seen many times, but I like the way John Moody, in “The Clothing Conundrum:  Safe, Warm, Winter Dressing,” writes about our skin (Wise Traditions, Winter 2013, 47-49).

An adult’s skin averages “twenty-two square feet in surface area and [weighs] eight pounds.

Our skin is our first line of defense “against a host of dangers.”  And, “the body also uses our skin as an important pathway to eliminate certain toxins, but at the same time, it thus also becomes an easy way of access for many toxins to gain entry into our body.”

Warning:  “This entry pathway may be even more dangerous than others, such as inhalation or ingestion, since toxins that enter through the skin bypass the digestive and respiratory tracks and the defenses these systems employ.”

“For instance, studies have shown that our skin possibly absorbs more chlorine in a five to ten minute hot shower than in drinking five to ten glasses of chlorinated water!”


“When you use personal care products (make-up, deodorants, etc.), the chemicals in those products can show up in the bloodstream less than sixty seconds after being applied to the skin.”

“A 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group looked at twenty teenage girls and found sixteen chemicals with potentially harmful health effects in blood and urine samples from their personal care products.”

Moody goes on to discuss how modern clothing is coated with chemicals that are known toxins and how we wash clothes in another whole set of toxins.  And, he makes a case for using traditional fibers that are free from toxins, which is food for thought.  He notes that hemp is a great natural fiber, but has been banned by many states as it is related to marijuana–even though it is NOT marijuana–which has been a boon to industries that fabricate cloth from chemicals.  You can read the whole article if you like: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-issues/the-clothing-conundrum-safe-warm-winter-dressing.

* * *

I saw an ad on television last night for a product to treat acne.  The ad depicted a young man with truly terrible acne.  And, of course I wondered two things:  what chemicals are involved in the ad’s product and what is this young man eating and/or to what is he being exposed.

We should not have to fix a problem that starts inside us by slathering on a chemical product from the outside.

When you see sores on the skin, it’s a sign that the body is trying to detox itself.

So, our skin is always already “in the game.”  Every day.